September 3, 1963 was my very first day of school. I still have memories of that experience, even though it was a long time ago. St. David Elementary School in the small, rural community of St. David, Arizona, did not offer a kindergarten program so my first day of school was in Mrs. Choate’s first grade class, along with 10 girls and just one other boy. I had a chance to visit the school the last time I was in Arizona, a red brick building built in 1935 with high ceilings, 5 large classrooms and a small auditorium that seemed gigantic back then.
Even though it has been a long time, I have more memories of experiences from school during that time of my life than from anything else. I know what it is like to be the “new kid” in the class, because after first grade, we moved into the adjoining school district where second grade had four classes and I was the only new kid in my homeroom. I remember, and can name, every teacher I had through high school. There are specific events, bad days and good days, that stand out in my mind and I can even remember some of the lines from the plays and musicals I was in during both middle school and high school.
Of course, there were some teachers who made a memorable impact on my life, and were influential in motivating my learning experience and influencing my direction. Those weren’t rare encounters, either. I can only think of two or three, from the time I started school all the way through college and graduate school, who didn’t really make some kind of impression on me, or who I felt didn’t really care about what they were doing. The rest of them were all, in their own way, a positive influence in my life. I’ll never forget them.
Make the Most of the Time Spent in School
One of the reasons Christian schools exist is because the influence of school on the students who are enrolled and attend is so pervasive. More time is spent in school by students than anywhere else in their life for those years, except being at home with parents and family. It can be a tremendous benefit to the spiritual life of students when their academic education is paired with a ministry of Christian discipleship. Instead of school being another block of time spent away from discipleship, it becomes a daily time of discipleship, which vastly increases evangelistic and spiritual growth opportunities.
Our expected student outcomes include, as one of our primary objectives, leading students to hear, and have opportunities to respond, to the gospel of Jesus Christ, initially for their salvation, but also, as they grow and gain knowledge and skills, to the calling of the Holy Spirit which gives their life a ministry purpose serving others in Jesus’ name. We have many alumni who serve in vocational ministry as pastors, church staff, missionaries, and as teachers in other Christian schools but we also have those who are police officers, firemen, teachers, secretaries, accountants, engineers and truck drivers who live their lives by their faith in Jesus, serve in his church and minister to others.
Our philosophy of education encourages students to do their best as a means of giving glory to God. And that doesn’t mean they must be a high academic achiever, it just means doing their best. We don’t take for granted the opportunities we have with our students, to worship together, to pray, to teach scripture, not just in a Bible class, but to point out where it is relevant and informs other subjects. They’re not only seeing the faith that their teachers have, but the relevance of the gospel in all areas of life. A Christian school is the only place where the education your children receive supports and undergirds the work of the church in this way.
Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers. I Timothy 4:16, NRSV
We hope every student had a great, and memorable, first day of school at MCA. We are looking forward to a great school year.